Dragons singe Tigers

LAKE PLACID - Just looking at the scores, you might have thought Thursday's volleyball match was actually a scrimmage between Lake Placid's varsity and junior-varsity squads. The Dragons handily defeated Class 4A Clewiston, sweeping the nondistrict match by scores of 25-7, 25-13, and 25-15. "The girls are dedicated," Lake Placid coach Charlotte Bauder said. "They've bought into our program. When I came in, I changed a lot of things; I expected a lot out of them: conditioning, working on their own, staying active over the summer. And it's come together really well." "I have a lot of respect for them and they have a lot of respect for me."
In the opening set, the Dragons struck early, jumping out to a 7-3 lead. The Tigers did their best to respond, but it seemed that for every point they earned, Lake Placid took three more. Up 12-6, the Dragons went on 10-0 run before Clewiston finally caught a break when Lake Placid's Raveen Gobourne served the ball into the back of Andrea Barajas' head. It was little more than a formality from there, though, as Lake Placid won the next two points to close out the set. Lake Placid took another big lead to open the second set. The Dragons were up 5-0 before the Tigers managed two quick points, but Lake Placid answered to go up 7-2. The Dragons separated themselves from there, eventually going up 9-3 bore taking a commanding 19-11 lead. A Clewiston time out did little to stem the Dragons' onslaught, as serving errors and miscommunication doomed the Tigers, who fell 25-13. Paced by the stellar play of Breauna Corley, Joanna Sanchez, and Shannon Huber, the Green Dragons had their most dominating set of the night. Corley, Sanchez and Huber combined for four aces, as the Dragons soared to a 20-9 lead. Clewiston earned a few points towards the end of the set thanks to some lackluster play from Lake Placid, but Gobourne's spike with the Dragons up 24-13 clinched the set and the match on a resounding note. "We haven't been laying down against teams that aren't quite up to par," Bauder said. "And even though it's our third match this week, we didn't pitter-patter around tonight. We're doing good." Bauder, a Lake Placid alum who was an integral part of the Dragons' volleyball program in the late 1990s, has her team pumping on all cylinders as the they head towards a much-hyped match with district rival Avon Park on Tuesday night. The former player cites her passion for the game as a reason why her team has been performing so well. "I'm not just here to fill a void," Bauder said. "This is my sport - volleyball is a big thing for me. And the girls know that." A perennial name in the district tournament, Bauder is hoping to get her team back into the regional playoffs. That makes the match against Avon Park all the more critical. Along with bragging rights, district seeding is on the line. But Bauder has a lot of confidence in her team, and it doesn't hurt that the Dragons already knocked off Avon Park earlier in the season. "If they can stay level headed and put the ball away when they need to, we'll do well," Bauder said. "They trust each other; they trust me. We know what we can and can't do. They've bought into it and they believe in what we're doing." bhoward@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5841